[Cyborg] Securing Our Minds: The Need For Brainwave Tech Standards Against Hacking

Alexandra Glowaski alex.glowaski at gmail.com
Mon Sep 17 21:42:13 UTC 2012

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing!


On Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 1:02 PM, linkreincarnate
<linkreincarnate at gmail.com>wrote:

> Found this interesting and relevant.
> Sent to you by linkreincarnate via Google Reader:
> Securing Our Minds: The Need For Brainwave Tech Standards Against Hacking<http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/2ws-xnbLMY0/>
> via TechCrunch <http://techcrunch.com> by Ariel Garten on 9/15/12
> [image: Ariel_Garten]
> *Editor’s note:* *Ariel Garten is the co-founder and CEO of InteraXon<http://interaxon.ca/>,
> a Toronto-based company that builds brainwave-enabled products and
> applications. In her work as a neuroscientist and entrepreneur, Ariel’s
> insights into how the human mind works are creating new ways for society to
> interact with the world – and ourselves – using the power of our brains.
> Follow her on Twitter: @ariel_garten <https://twitter.com/ariel_garten>.*
> Last month, researchers from UC Berkeley, Oxford, and University of Geneva
> posted<http://boingboing.net/2012/08/19/adversarial-mind-reading-with.html>results of a joint research study suggesting hackers could hijack a
> brainwave-reading headset and attempt to uncover sensitive user information
> – think PINs and bank information.
> As a long-time member of the Brainwave-computer Interface (or BCI)
> community, I’d like to shed some light on the study and make an ask of the
> industry. But first, I want to clear up two important pieces of information.
> *1. Brainwave-computer interface technology cannot actually read your
> thoughts*
> What you’re thinking right this moment is not decipherable by any computer
> today. What *is* possible is the ability<http://brainandhealth.com/Brain-Waves.html>to pick up alpha and beta brainwaves. These waves identify when you’re
> relaxed or when you’re thinking actively, and then they infer things, such
> as your state of mind or how alert or excited you are. It allows you to
> control things by transmitting and translating those signals into
> computable actions. It also picks up random spikes, or what are called P300
> brainwaves, that come up just after something familiar has been shown to
> you.
> In the case of the study, the researchers were able to see these spikes
> after the person was shown familiar information, e.g. neighborhood, PIN or
> credit card image. This doesn’t give a malicious hacker your information.
> It could, though, give them enough to piece together how to steal your
> information, which is why this study should not be ignored. But assuming a
> hacker could know what you’re thinking or that the technology itself is
> intelligent enough to read<http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/high-tech-mind-readers-are-latest-effort-detect-lies>your mind is still science fiction.
> *2. Brain hacking isn’t as easy as the study made it out to be*
> A lot of conditions have to be in place for your brain to actually be
> “hacked.” The tests uncovering the potential security flaw were constructed
> showing participants familiar information that, if identified, could cause
> their personal data to be hacked. They each wore a headset and were
> presented with images corresponding with information hackers would find
> valuable.
> But if you actually look at what’s being developed by BCI companies today,
> the vast majority are in gaming. How bizarre would it be to randomly come
> across your bank’s logo while playing Angry Birds with your mind? Would you
> really be thinking about your PIN while using a brainwave headset to relax?
> And remember, you’d have to be shown the exact number on a screen for a
> hacker to detect it could be hack-worthy information.
> This is a lot harder than it appears. Unless a game has you point to your
> PINs or identify your bank’s name, the likelihood of your information
> getting hacked while wearing the device is pretty slim.
> Looking back at the study, they were only able to show 15 percent
> improvement in guessing one digit of a person’s PIN at a time. (Note: This
> is after researchers had already secured the correct answer from
> participants beforehand.) To acquire an entire PIN using this method, you’d
> have to guess one digit at a time in the right order, which dramatically
> reduces the chances of a hacker being successful.
> Despite the study’s loopholes, the hysteria<http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/27/brain-hacking-scientists-extract-personal-secrets-with-commercial-hardware/>arising from it does highlight a real need for our industry to sort out
> self-regulation and governing of security and ethical measures in a big way.
> *The Case For A Center For Brainwave Ethics*
> The brainwave technology industry has made huge research and development
> breakthroughs <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19367832> in past
> decades. Consumer technology and medical tools have been created to benefit
> our daily lives. Without self-regulation, though, the industry could be at
> risk of potentially halting years of innovation and stunting growth in this
> field.
> <http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/15/securing-our-minds-the-need-for-brainwave-tech-standards-against-hacking/brainwave3/>
> For this reason, we at Interaxon are proposing the creation of an
> industry-led International Center for Brainwave Ethics — a place for the
> industry to establish security standards and a code of ethics, develop
> global initiatives, and provide ongoing communications with consumers,
> developers, decision-makers, government bodies, and businesses on how best
> to protect brainwave information.
> We’ve watched cloning research and development come to a screeching halt
> when the government <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.4808:>began regulating activity. The community had not united to ensure safety
> and establish standards from the get-go.
> Similarly, governments and the Internet industry are battling<http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57450392-93/anti-sopa-pipa-lawmakers-want-internet-bill-of-rights/>it out over who controls rights with the introduction of SOPA. In this
> case, their industry is well beyond the point of uniting.
> It’s reasonable for us to assume the government will eventually step in to
> regulate brainwave technology, but who knows how and when this will happen.
> This brings me back to why a joint international initiative is so critical
> now when the industry is still forming.
> Having an effective and credible industry-organized group in place will
> ensure we have a voice in how our industry moves forward. If we do not work
> to educate, guide, and regulate our work, we become an easy target for
> hyperbolic hysteria as the “hacking” study headlines have shown.
> InteraXon is aiming to create the International Center for Brainwave
> Ethics for Fall 2012. We’d like to invite other members of the BCI industry
> and brainwave technology research community to come together, now, at one
> of the more critical milestones.
> If you are interested in getting involved, please email me at
> ariel at interaxon.ca.
> [Image: InteraXon <http://interaxon.ca>]
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